My Drug Dealer Brought Me To God

By Ryan Joseph Allen


Ryan Joseph Allen’s life was on a downward trajectory. As a child, he felt different from other kids and struggled to fit in. Even at a tender age he contemplated suicide. In his teenage years and as a young adult, he hid his true self and numbed his emotional turmoil with alcohol, drugs, and self-destructive behaviors. When he summoned the courage to share his secret and come out to a close friend, her response added another layer of self-hatred. How could he love and accept himself as a gay man when he was taught that God and the Church considered it wrong?

In “My Drug Dealer Brought Me to God,” Allen recounts his quest to find meaning, self-acceptance, and his life’s purpose. He battles addiction, the heartache of disappointing, toxic relationships, and alienation from his family. One day his co-worker, roommate, friend, and drug dealer, Marie, shares her belief that God made everyone for a purpose and wants us to be ourselves. The conversation ignites Allen’s new understanding of how faith can be inclusive, while stepping into his own definition of God.

Becoming a parent and the desire to be a positive role model for his daughter is a turning point. With God as the focal point of his spiritual journey, Allen comes to understand that change has to start from within. He breaks the cycle of family trauma and recognizes his true mission: to teach, support, motivate, and lead other people to love. He learns to balance his faith while affirming and being a warrior for the LGBTQ+ community. Allen’s honesty and courage in telling his story is an inspiring message to us all that everyone has a story to share, and within sharing our collective stories we can all grow and heal.

Ryan Joseph Allen
Ryan Joseph AllenAuthor & Transformational Coach
A piece of my STORY
From the time I was very young… four years old or so I knew I was different. I was different than my brother and my male friends. I tended to feel things so deeply. At the age of six was the first time I had thought about ending my life. Within a few years I realized that I fell within the LGBTQ+ community. By my teenage years I was engulfed in self-destructive behaviors. Self-mutilation, body dysmorphia, drug and alcohol use and an ever growing sense of self-loathing. I survived suicide multiple times. As I entered college I was in full addiction and spiraling out of control. Until one night me and my drug dealer had a talk about God. She simply was sharing her story with me about her connection with God. After our conversation I went to the bathroom and fell to my knees asking God to save my life. I knew if I continued on the path I was on I would surely end up dead. From that moment everything shifted and changed. Some things little by little and others astronomically. Eventually, I was able to get clean and stay clean at the age of 23. I was able to be a father to my daughter that my father wasn’t to me. I was able to finish my undergraduate degrees, eventually a masters degree and now I’m almost to the dissertation process in my doctorate around leadership studies and spirituality at the age of 31. I helped form a nonprofit organization around love and acceptance. When we founded the organization we knew we needed to do something for those kids, teenagers, and adults like me that had felt a void of love and acceptance for themselves throughout their life. Through this work I’ve had countless souls touch my heart and impact my story. Within each story we share with others we help to break down walls and barriers that so often divide us. Storytelling creates hope! My dream is that by sharing my story I will inspire others to share their story authentically, with passion, and ultimately with love.

My Inspiration
I’m so blessed to be given a second chance at life. Any one of the many horrible decisions I made could’ve ended up with me in prison, homeless, or dead. I became a Dad at the age of 22. My daughter and drug dealer became the catalysts to drive me closer to God. A God who is ALL loving, pure love, pure light- something so many of us in the LGBTQ+ community didn’t see growing up. My extended family was conservative and lived within a very rural community. We were often taught we were bad, wrong, sinful, and even damned. My true inspiration comes from my heart. I don’t ever want anyone to feel the way I felt growing up. I want others to feel the love that is abundant and available for everyone. No matter what it’s called. The name doesn’t matter. Only the feeling matters. Only the love matters.

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